Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien
Gaijin Games’ six-game Bit.Trip series on WiiWare (and later on PC and 3DS) has a certain reputation for old-school looks and challenge. Bit.Trip Runner was one of the standout entries, but it still punished those who didn’t have the best reflexes. With Runner2, the first direct Bit.Trip sequel, Gaijin has pulled out all the stops to make a game that anyone can love, regardless of skill level.
Just like before, hero Commandervideo automatically hustles forward while you control jumping, sliding, kicks, and shields so as not to hit anything in the environment. A trail of gold bars and red score-boost powerups gives players something to collect while attempting to survive. The difficulty and complexity is expertly paced throughout the whole quest, with new moves and environments constantly keeping things fresh. You still fail with one misplaced jump, but the new checkpoints and flexible difficulty toggling lessens the frustration tenfold. Hardcore players looking for the ultimate challenge can simply crank it up to “Rather Hard” and score a point bonus for refusing checkpoints.
The visual presentation has received a drastic overhaul. Cutscenes now resemble classic cartoons with a more kooky story than the spaced out, vague entries of the past. The number of levels has more than tripled, pushing over 100, and stages are now grouped into appealing themed world maps resembling Super Mario Bros. 3. Each stage contains plenty to keep you coming back (including alternate paths and secret exits) and this format makes it easy to return to clean up.
If you collect all the standard pickups in a level, you’ll earn a Perfect rating and get to shoot the good Commander out of a cannon at a massive dart board for bonus points (online leaderboards are supported). If you score a bullseye, you’ll earn a Perfect Plus. Truly dedicated fans won’t be able to rest until every stage is marked up with this rating for all three difficulties. You also hunt for keys, treasure chests, and Famicom carts to unlock new costumes and special retro pixelated levels.
Throughout the campaign, you naturally unlock new characters as well, who all have their own strange and silly animated personalities (Reverse Merman stands out for an obvious reason). Even though Runner2 is a single-player game, it’s fun to trade off levels with a friend simply to appreciate the finer details, like the different way every character dances or when bigfoot lumbers into the background. You just can’t absorb this stuff when you’re laser-focused on sweet, sweet survival.
Runner2 appears on PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii U. Our primary review platform was PC due to availability. As the other versions become available we'll post separate reviews if there are any major discrepancies. Otherwise, consider this our definitive review.
[Watch our Runner2 Test Chamber now to see the game in action.]